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Facts about the rights of unmarried fathers in America

Unmarried fathers do have rights in relation to their children. They are biologically connected to their children, and that means they share equal responsibilities to the children with the children's mothers. If you need to assert your rights, your attorney can help, since you may need to file paperwork with the courts.

What is a father, by law?

The United States has no standard definition. In four states, including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are no definitions for the term at all.

When you want to go to court over paternity or your rights as a father, you may be termed a putative father, which is an unmarried man whose relationship with a child is not established (but who is claiming he is the biological father to a child).

Can men be assumed to be the father of a child?

Yes, that's possible. If a man and woman are married and a child is born during that marriage or within 300 days of the marriage ending, then a man could be presumed to be the father of that child. If a marriage was attempted but invalidated, he could also be assumed to be the father of the child.

A man can also list himself as the biological father on a birth certificate willingly or acknowledge his paternity in writing.

Are biological parents obligated to new children?

Yes. Biological fathers are obligated to their children. He will be ordered to support the child, at least financially. This can be ordered through a court or be ordered with a voluntary agreement between the man and the child's mother.

Source: ChildWelfare.Gov, "The Rights of Unmarried Fathers," accessed Jan. 15, 2016

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